Archive for 'Sauternes'
January 15th, 2010
Frosty the snowman is still here as I write this article. I am down in the warehouse on a Saturday braving the elements and trying to stay warm. It’s not easy. The heating is on but useless, however the coffee is brewing. It was suggested on Twitter this week that I am making lots of mulled wine to keep warm, but alas, it is not true. The water pipes are frozen and I have no where to cook it up. As Judy once sang, “We’ll have to muddle through some how”. Being that we are in the coldest weather I have seen since I spent a winter of discontent in Canada back in my engineering days, I think it apt to talk about something called “Ice Wine”. It is quite rare and be default, tends to be expensive. But since we probably won’t have a chance to buy any, who cares what it costs. Some might say, if we can’t get it, why write about it in the first place. But my cynical hat is frozen so I will offer this useless knowledge regardless. In Germany it is known as Eiswein and it is a desert wine, as it is in Canada. The grapes have been frozen whilst on the vines. The water in the grape freezes but the sugar does not. This has the effect of much smaller quantities, of a more concentrated, sweet wine.
The grapes do not need to be affected by Botrytis Cinerea or noble rot as it is more commonly known, unlike other sweet wines like France’s Sauternes and Hungary’s great Tokaji wines. Good IceWine should be high in acidity, as you would expect, but also have a refreshing sweetness. I have some Canadian friends in Paris who always have a supply of IceWine and Super Tuscan Italian Reds whenever we visit ( He is of Italian stock ). They just had their 2nd child, so I assume they will do what all parents do for those first few months – panic and hide away. Maybe he’ll send me some if I ask nicely. A reverse baby present as such. The cold is affecting my brain and I am babbling again, so I will go for a little walk to get the circulation moving and then attack the article from the flank. Many people might assume it a rather strange thing to do, make wine from ice grapes. However, there is some evidence to suggest it has been going on since the Romans, and we all know what they did for us. Well, what they did for everyone else. They had a look at Ireland and then thought “a frozen barren land with no natural resources to plunder” – not tonight Josephine Caesar. They called is Hibernia which means Wintery. That’s what you call foresight, assuming they knew 2000 years later we would be in a deep recession, the country would be covered in snow and I would be writing this article and making references to the fact that the Romans possibly made IceWine. The cold is really starting to take hold now.
With that in mind, and the fact that there have been a few customers stocking up for the cold week ahead, I will mention a few subtle facts about IceWine, before looking towards the door and the fireplace. Some Riesling versions in Germany have alcohol content as low as 6%, but the norm is between 8 and 13%. It tends to have a long lingering finish, as you would expect from a desert wine and experts quibble and fight over its ageing potential. The high sugar and high acidity levels would suggest it does age well but I have never tasted an old one, so really can’t offer anything new on this point. But I would suggest you try it if you get a chance, at least just to say that you have had it and did not like it. If I get to meet Filippo in Paris I’ll try bring back a bottle and will open it up in the shop. Stay warm and be sure to enjoy the rich spicy full bodied reds by the fire on these cold cold nights.
For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”